Sounds of Silence

With the rush of falling water, scents of roses and herbs, and visual surprises of texture and form, the gardens of Nottingham are a treat to the senses. The Nottingham Garden Club Garden Tour June 1 includes nine private gardens in the Hamilton area.

By: Mary Jasch


Staff photo by Mark Czajkowski
Every nook and cranny of Diana and John Reed’s Nottingham garden is filled with surprises.


Staff photos by Mark Czajkowski
"Diana "Flowers
Diana and John Reed (above, left) have planted everything from hollyhocks to hydrangeas for a full season of color.

   Diana Reed doesn’t have a yard at her suburban East State Street home. She has a garden. When you walk through the wrought iron gate, you enter an oasis with raised beds burgeoning with perennials, herbs and towering, flowering shrubs. Frilly flowers throw their color at you in this garden carved from tall oaks and evergreens in adjoining yards.
   Ms. Reed’s garden is one of nine private gardens in the Hamilton Township area that will be open to the public June 1 for the 46th Annual Garden Tour presented by the Nottingham Garden Club. The tour offers a variety of garden types, including an English garden, Pivo’s Pines with mature trees and rhododendrons, a bonsai and tropical garden, and a 10-acre wooded garden. The club is known for its workshops, plant sales, flower shows and gardens.
   A Surrey, England, native, Ms. Reed says her display is as close to an English garden as you can get. The slightly formal beds in the front of the house are edged in candy tuft and creeping phlox, clipped to resemble the famous box hedges of Britain. The newest rose bed grows Betty Boop and large white roses with a most delicate perfume. Nearby, an old tree stump is a study in texture — soft lamb’s ear, lacy larkspur and the smooth leaves of canna lilies — accented by evening primrose. In other beds, moonbeam coreopsis is happy with azaleas, columbine, ornamental grass, coral bells and 20-year-old lavenders.
   In the courtyard, espaliered pyracantha lies along a fence and a bed of tea roses smells heavenly. White geraniums are interplanted with the roses. "Their scent helps keep pets away and prevents beetles and aphids," said Jasenka Derrico, president of the garden club. A light pink rose is reminiscent of a classic rose from childhood, the Seven Sisters that ran wild. There are hydrangeas, wild violets, hollyhocks and even hard-to-grow lupines.
   "In England, we had the gardens full of lupines. That’s why I keep trying them every year, " said Ms. Reed, who never gives up.


Staff photo by Mark Czajkowski
Ms. Reed’s garden is "as close to an English garden as you can get," says the Surrey, England, native, who never gives up when it comes to planting lupines.

   Nor does she quash the wild — larkspur, evening primrose and alyssum are left where they want to grow, popping up through brick walks, strong as ever. Wire baskets, pots and bird baths filled with annuals, hens and chicks, and tropicals are displayed in the side garden, placed near peonies and Star of Tibet. An espaliered pyracantha climbs the chimney in 12 perfect horizontal rows with a knob on top. The garden has everything. It is a melting pot of plants, where annuals, perennials, tropicals, roses, shrubs, trees and herbs thrive together — weigela, forget-me-nots, fringe-leaf bleeding hearts, foam bells, silvery rock cress, thyme, calendula, lantana, licorice. Even furniture is not safe from the horticultural eye of Ms. Reed — hot pink Busy Lizzie adorns a pair of bright blue antique rocking chairs.
   Special trees dot the garden — the chaste tree from England whose scent "cools you ardor."
   Follow the brick walk to the back garden, where a twisted trunk of wisteria grown from a cutting now covers the arbor, creating shade for small shrubs and ferns. A tiered garden extends from the wisteria, with low-growing herbs, bulbs and perennials. A small arrangement of window boxes with potato vine, nicotiana and mandevilla and pots of blue lily of the Nile blend delicately against small iron trellises. Tansy and varieties of hydrangea, coral bells and stone crop sedum abound. This is a close-up garden.


Staff photo by Mark Czajkowski

   There are two ponds with waterfalls surrounded by colorful, breezy Japanese willow, tradescantia, lilies, iris and water plants. White-blooming sedum covers a stone path between them, and a third pond is a foliage garden with its own real frog.
   More beds grow sun plants, like the mix of soft lavender scabiosa, tall, hot-colored painted daisies and huge fragrant sage. There’s no mulch here where seedlings have the run of the bed.
   Shiny Japanese holly, Christmas fern and hosta beds are simple and calm against the riot of flowers. Verbena and ferns grow gently under the old oak tree. The surprises are endless.
   The garden is a dedication of love, and Ms. Reed and her husband, John, spend at least six hours every day working with their plants. Pleasure is their reward. An etched rock echoes their sentiment: "Lovely is the silence of growing things." Ms. Reed’s garden is a treat for all the senses — the sound of falling water, the scent of roses and herbs, visual delights and surprises of texture, color and form.
The Nottingham Garden Club Garden Tour on June 1 includes nine private gardens in the Hamilton area. Tickets cost $10 and are available at the John Abbott house herb garden, Kuser Road, and Sayen Botanical Gardens, Hughes Drive. For information, call (609) 585-9839 or (609) 585-8269.